A collection of twelve exquisite stories that explore how ordinary men and women endure the trials and complexities of life and the ripples of disquiet that lie beneath the surface.
An elderly schoolteacher recalls the single act of youthful passion that changed her life forever; a young gardener has an unsettling encounter with a suburban housewife; a wife who miscalculated the guarantees of marriage embarks upon an online affair. And in the title story a teenage girl strikes up an unlikely friendship with a lonely bachelor.
Love, loss, betrayal. Grief, guilt, longing. The act of grace or forgiveness that can suddenly transform and redeem lives. In these twelve haunting stories Mary Costello examines the passions and perils of everyday life and relationships and, with startling insight, casts a light on the darkest corners of the human heart.
With a calm intensity and an undertow of sadness, she reveals the secret fears and yearnings of her characters, and those isolated moments when a few words or a small deed can change everything, with stark and sometimes brutal consequences.
The stories in this collection:
The China Factory
You Fill up My Senses
Things I See
The Patio Man
This Falling Sickness
Sleeping with a Stranger
And Who Will Pay Charon?
The Astral Plane
Room in Her Head
The Sewing Room
Mary Costello is originally from East Galway and now lives in Dublin. Her stories have been anthologised and published in New Irish Writer and in The Stinging Fly. The China Factory is Mary's first book of stories.
'It is the accumulation of tiny pleasures...that makes The China Factory such a satisfying and accomplished debut...[Mary Costello's] writing has the kind of urgency that the great problems demand - call them themes; they are the kind of problem that make a writer. With a bit of luck, they could keep her at the desk for the rest of her life.' Anne Enright, Guardian
'A publishing coup...there are shades of John McGahern and William Trevor in many of these disquieting tales of loss and regret but Costello's nimble, exacting prose style is very much her own. The stories engage with the human condition in such a profound way it's no wonder they leave an indelible mark.' Metro Herald
'These twelve stories examine the dark side of everyday life...Echoing Thomas Hardy, she reveals how even ordinary lives can be full of drama and incident...Beautifully crafted but never pretentious, Costello's stories are stark and honest and her characters linger long after you close the book.' Books Ireland
'The subtle underpinnings, the intuitive capacities - the eye for details, the feel for language, the care of it—are much in evidence...One hopes to read more of Mary Costello.' Irish Times